City businesses warned against commandeering public parking spaces

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By Orville Williams

[email protected]

Business operators in St John’s are being warned by the police’s Traffic Department to desist from commandeering public parking spaces, as they have no legal authority to do so.

Motorists have been complaining about the practice for some time, where persons associated with some businesses in the city often place cones, wooden pallets or even random objects to reserve parking spaces for their vehicles.

It has also been observed that some of the businesses guilty of this offence use the public parking spaces for greater ease of movement, whether that be for the delivery of goods or for their employees’ convenience.

But motorists say finding parking in the city is already a difficult challenge, and they are often forced to utilise paid parking services or park well outside of the city, walk in to do their business and then make the lengthy trek back to their vehicles.

Seeing public parking spaces blocked off and not in use, they say, only makes them more incensed.

Head of the Traffic Department, Superintendent Rodney Ellis, told Observer that, with the exception of persons or businesses that have received official approval to reserve certain parking spaces, no one is legally permitted to block off any public parking space.

“[The practice] is unlawful – we have no arrangements with anyone, authorising them to put any pallets, cones [or other objects] to block off any parking space whatsoever in the city.

“If you get [permission for] reserved parking through the Commissioner of Police, you would receive a letter from the Commissioner, authorising you to have a reserved area that should be marked ‘reserved’ in yellow paint.

“It would be legal if you have that, however, you are not permitted to put anything to block off any parking area in the city,” Ellis explained.

The Superintendent noted too that, though persons have the right to utilise any vacant public parking spaces in the city, he would not encourage anyone to get into an altercation over the issue.

What he said he does encourage, is persons to report these incidents to the police, so that the lawmen can intervene where necessary.

“If you drive up there and you need to park, you see a pallet and you move it, nothing at all is wrong with that. [However], I would not advise persons to get into any confrontation with anyone.

“Report it to the police, because though you would be in the right if you move a pallet if you want to park, you can avoid confrontation.

“I would advise my officers, during their patrols, to drive around and advise the persons who are [guilty of the practice] to desist from doing it,” Superintendent Ellis added.

Work on the Sunshine Hub car park – touted as the premier solution to the parking challenges in St John’s – was previously tipped to continue as planned, with the government declaring last year that the work would not be hindered by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unlike other infrastructure projects underway or set for the future, the car park is being managed by the National Asset Management Company (NAMCO), whose available resources – according to the government – are “not limited by the cashflow considerations within the Treasury itself”.

The completion of that project would go a long way in easing the troubles faced by motorists, and allow business operators in the city greater flexibility to carry out their work efficiently.

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